Farrokh Book: Shadows in the Desert Translated into Russian

“Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War”  has been translated into Russian and was published in July 2009, two years after its original publication in English.


Shadows in the Desert Ancient Persia at War: Russian translation at left and original Osprey Publication at right.  For details of this text in Russian consult the Russian EXMO Publishers website and for the English version consult OspreyPublishing or Amazon.com.

Review by the EXMO Publishersin Russian:

Подлинная история военного искусства древней Персии, новый взгляд на тех, кого римляне и греки именовали “варварами”. Автор рассказывает о могучей армии Великих царей, об истории империи, ставшей во многом образцом для подражания для тех, кто и разрушил ее, – для Александра Македонского и Рима. Подробный рассказ о становлении персидской державы, о новшествах в военном деле, привнесенных народами Востока. Доктор Фаррох, опираясь на новые данные археологии и последние исследования, воссоздает структуру персидского войска и его тактические приемы. Книга содержит богатейший и уникальный иллюстративный материал и является, по сути дела, энциклопедией военной истории империи Ахеменидов, и мы можем по-иному взглянуть на древнейшее противостояние Востока и Запада, отголоски которого живы и в наши дни.

Translation of the review into English:

This book describes the true military history of ancient Persia, a new perspective different from that narrated by the Romans and Greeks who called the the Persians “barbarians”. The author discusses the mighty armies of the Great Kings, the history of the Empire, which was largely a role model for those who destroyed her,-and to Alexander and Rome. This book provides a detailed history of the development of Persian power and its military innovations, as brought about by the peoples of the East. Relying on new archaeological data and the latest research, Dr. Farrokh recreates the structure of the Persian army and its tactics. The book contains a wealth of unique illustrative material and is essentially an encyclopedia of Persian military history, and we may otherwise look at ancient confrontation of East and West, echoes of which are alive today.

Dr. Nikoloz Kacharava  of The University of Georgia in Tbilisi, Member of Academy of Sciences in Georgia, Active Member of New York Academy of Sciences notes that:

Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War is perhaps on of the finest books that has been produced from Western publishing houses, in this case Osprey Publishing… For the first time, we see a clearly written history book that outlines the relationship between these Iranian achievements to the wars that took place between the Greco-Roman world and ancient Persia…this book draws on excellent research that has received little mention; not to mention previously un-translated Greco-Roman historical sources“.

The Farrokh text has also been evaluated by Western professors of history and archaeology (all of these reviews can be seen posted on posted on Amazon.com).


This is an excellent well-illustrated survey of an important period, useful for students and a general readership alike. It deals not only with military matters, but also more broadly with political developments in Persia. My students have consulted it with profit.” –Dr. Geoffrey Greatrex, University of Ottawa.




 ”   This beautifully illustrated book will no doubt serve as a useful companion for all those interested in the military history of the pre-Islamic Middle East… Useful maps, photography and color plates make this a handsome and desirable volume; it will be of interest to students and scholars alike.” –Dr. Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones, University of Edinburgh.




“… a book for all who have ever been curious about the ‘other’ view on Persia, not from the Western standpoint rooted in Greece, but from the traditions of the Persians themselves… Meticulously researched and documented… I have recommended it to many and am also using it here at Stanford not only for research but also in a course … There is not only no better book on Perisan warfare, it is carefully and sensitively written with great verve and love of history. I much appreciate how the research and analyses of texts showed Achaeminid, Parthian and Sassanid military accomplishments, often to the astonishment of Greeks and Romans and beyond. I notice from excellent reviews that other scholars agree.” Dr. Patrick Hunt, Stanford University

Farrokh’s text was also reviewed by the peer-reviewed Iranshensasi journal, which is one of the most highly respected Iranian Studies journals in the international arena. it’s reviews and articles are closely examined and pre-screened by a panel of iranian studies experts including Professor Jalal Matini (Chief editor) and other distinguished Iranologists such as Professor Roger Savory. For a full review of the Farrokh text in Iranshenasi consult:

Mafie, Farhad (2010). Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War, by Dr. Kaveh Farrokh. Iranshenasi, Volume XXII, No.1, Spring 2010, pp.1-5 (see document in pdf).

The foreword of the book has been written by Harvard Professor Emeritus Richard Nelson Frye who has been recognized as one the world’s premier scholar of Iranian Studies. His achievements  span well over 40 years of research, publications and textbooks.

Kaveh Farrokh greets (left) Professor Emeritus Richard Nelson Frye of Harvard University (shaking hands with Farrokh) and in the center is world-renowned Iranologist, Dr. Farhang Mehr, winner of the 2010 Merit and Scholarship award (photo from Persian American Society,March 1, 2008).  As noted by Mafie, Professor Frye of Harvard University wrote the foreword of Farrokh’s text stating that “…Dr. Kaveh Farrokh has given us the Persian side of the picture as opposed to the Greek and Roman viewpoint …it is refreshing to see the other perspective, and Dr. farrokh sheds light on many Persian institutions in this history…” (Mafie, 2010, pp.2).

The book also received the Best History Book Award in London (2008) and was also cited as being among the top three history books by the Indepedent Book Publisher’s Association in the United States (2008), The book has been cited by the BBC (2008), the Kayhan Newspaper of London (2008) (the Iranian equivalent of the New York Times) with Farrokh also being interviewed on the book by the Voice of America (2008) and the The Leonard Lopate Show (2008) of New York City.

Farrokh at the WAALM ceremonies of November 2008.

Wojtek: The Iranian Bear of the Polish Army in World War Two


یک خرس ایرانی؛ سربازی برای لهستان در جنگ دوم جهانی

Wojtek (Polish: warrior bear) was originally a bear cub from Hamedan (in northwest Iran) who had been sold by a local Iranian boy to Polish troops in 1942. He was adopted by Polish soldiers who went from Iran to Europe to fight the Nazis.


Little Wojtek in Hamedan just after his adoption by Polish troops in Iran.

Wojtek soon became one of Poland’s national symbols.  There is also a BBC Persian report and video on “Wojtek”-یک خرس ایرانی؛ سربازی برای لهستان در جنگ دوم جهانی-Many Poles also associate Wojtek with their positive experiences in Iran during World War Two. Readers are encouraged the read the following book by Aileen Orr published in 2010:

Wojtek-Orr[Click above Book Image to Enlarge]

Wojtek the Bear. Polish War Hero
Author: Aileen Orr – with epilogue by Neal Ascherson
Publisher: Birlinn
Publication date: 2010 – Order on Amazon.

The author of the above book, Aileen Orr, noted the following to Kavehfarrokh.com on Monday, February 7, 2011:

“Wojtek is Iranian and also Iran’s bear.”

Wojtek soon learned to salute the troops, quickly becoming a mascot for the Polish army. He was not only drafted into the Polish army but also became a legend when he delivered ammunition crates to Polish troops in the heat of battle during the Monte Cassino campaign in Italy in 1944 – the book cover by Orr symbolizes Wojtek’s exploits during World War Two.


Wojtek engaged in the favorite sport of his native Iran: wrestling (left) and being “spoiled” by Polish troops who give him his favorite treats (right). Interestingly, Wojtek not only liked “bear foods” such as syrup and honey, but also developed a fondness for smoking and drinking beer!

Wojtek was fond of honey, fruits, syrup and marmalade, but he also enjoyed smoking cigarettes and drinking beer! There are plans to erect a statue of him in Edinburgh. Wojtek passed away in 1963 at the age of 22, but he continues to inspire admiration in not only Poland but also many British veterans of the Second World War. For further information, view the video tribute to Wojtek below:

WAALM has been Nominated for the NOBEL PEACE PRIZE of 2011


The United Nations affiliated organization ACUNS has has noted that The World Academy of Arts, Literature and Media – WAALM has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize (report also posted in Iranian.com, the Persianesque on-line Journal).

The Nobel Peace prize awarded to Sir Ralph Norman Angell (1872-1967) in 1933 (Photo in Public Domain).

This is due to WAALM’s role in promoting “Cultural Diplomacy”, encouraging the use of Soft power instead of Hard power / War, and its humaniterian and educational efforts to promote Peace and Understanding through its ‘WAALM – School of Cultural Diplomacy’ (SCD) and its ‘Empowering Conferences’ for less previllaged countries. The faculty heads of WAALM-SCD are Dr.s Zoltan Bécsi (Head of Department of Communications), Patrick Hunt (Head of Department of Arts and Literature in Humanities) and Kaveh Farrokh (Head of Department of Traditions & Cultural History).


Faculty heads of WAALM School of Cultural Diplomacy:  Dr.s Zoltan Bécsi (Head of Department of Communications-left), Patrick Hunt (Head of Department of Arts and Literature in Humanities-center) and Kaveh Farrokh (Head of Department of Traditions & Cultural History-right).

The full text of the UN-affiliated ACUNS text is seen in the image of its website below (see in PDF) :

Dr. Marjan Dorbayani, the Director and Co-founder of WAALM notes:

However we believe there are more deserving champions of Peace with longer records on Peace efforts globally, who should be also nominated and eventually be the winner, obviously we are thrilled to learn about this news and appreciate the nomination and regardless of the result, we believe just being nominated for such a prestigious prize, increases our responsibilities towards humanity more than ever and it certainly makes every member of our Academy proud.”


WAALM founders  Dr. Marjan Dorbayani (right) and Dr. Mosi Dorbayani

Other nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize (list not exclusive) include:

The NIHON HIDANKYO organisation of Japan
Dr. Betty Reardon

Master Builders: Influence of Sassanid Architecture Reached far Beyond their Borders

 This article has been written by Nabil Rastani and originally posted in Iranian.com on July 25, 2010. Nabil Rastani notes in his original posting in Iranian.Com:

Many thanks to Dr Touraj Daryaee and Dr Kaveh Farrokh for their research into Achaemenid & Sassanian Empires by producing books that I have used to base this article.  

Kindly note that the version printed below is different from that of Iranian.com in that the pictures and captions used are from Kaveh Farrokh’’s lectures at the University of British Columbia’s Continuing Studies Division and Stanford University’s WAIS 2006 Critical World Problems Conference Presentations on July 30-31, 2006.  The video insert of Terry Jones was originally made by Nabil Rastani in the Iranian.com version.  


The glorious Achaemenid Persian empire dominated all of the Middle East commencing from 550 to 330BC , Alexander the great conquered the Persian kingdom and destroyed the capital city of Persepolis .By all means the Sassanians (who were the descendants of the Achaemenid Empire) wished to revive the former glory of the Achaemenid Empire, this included their structural design, the Greek conquest of Persia inaugurated the spread of Hellenistic art into Western Asia; but if the East accepted the outward form of this art, it never really assimilated its spirit.


 Remains of the Archway of Ctesiphon, capital of the Sasanian Empire (224-651 AD). Picture and caption from Kaveh Farrokh’’s lectures at the University of British Columbia’s Continuing Studies Division and were also presented at Stanford University’s WAIS 2006 Critical World Problems Conference Presentations on July 30-31, 2006).

In the Parthian era (250BC-224AD) Hellenistic art was being interpreted freely by the peoples of the Near East and throughout the Sassanid period there was a continuing process of reaction against it. Sassanid art revived forms and traditions native to Persia; and in the Islamic period these reached the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.

We are provided with a vivid idea of architecture within the palaces of the Sassanian kings some excellent examples include those at Firouzabad and Bishapur in modern day Fars province. The palaces all included barrel vaulted Iwan introduced in the Parthian period but by now they reached massive proportions, particularly at Ctesiphon the royal capital. These magnificent structures fascinated architects in the centuries that followed and has always been considered as one of the most important pieces of Persian architecture. Many of the palaces contain an inner audience hall which consists, as at Firuzabad, of a chamber surmounted by a dome. The Persians solved the problem of constructing a circular dome on a square building by the squinch. This is an arch built across each corner of the square, thereby converting it into an octagon on which it is simple to place the dome.

Carving on the walls of Taq e-Bostan and Naqsh-e Rustam gives us the idea that heavy influence of Sassanian art came from their Achaemenid predecessors. These gigantic and enigmatic carvings depict the kings and nobles of the Sassanian Empire. During the “dark ages” under Khosrau II Parvez (590-628) expanded the Sassanian empire west towards Anatolia and even southern Egypt. These military exploits provided the king with enough money to create vast amounts of depictions of the king. One of the most impressive in Taq e Bostan one of the most impressive reliefs inside the largest grotto or Ivan is the gigantic equestrian figure of him mounted upon his favorite horse Shabdiz. Both horse and rider are arrayed in full battle armor. The arch rests on two columns that bear delicately carved patterns showing the tree of life or the sacred tree. Above the arch and located on two opposite sides are figures of two winged angles with diadems. Around the outer layer of the arch, a conspicuous margin has been carved, jagged with flower patterns. These patterns are also found in the official costumes of Sassanid kings. Equestrian relief panel measured on 16.08.07 approx. 7.45m across by 4.25 m high. Other carvings and figures in Taq-e-Bostan include Crowning ceremony of Shapur III and the coronation ceremony of Ardashir I of Persia.

The Partho-Sassanian circular defense system [CLICK TO ENLARGE] (A) The fortress-palace of Ardashir I at Firuzabad in 224 AD (B) a schematic layout of Ardashir’s palace at Firuzabad (C) Viking fort at Trelleborg, Denmark, built three centuries after the fall of the Sassanian Empire) in 981 AD (Pictures and captions from Kaveh Farrokh’’s lectures at the University of British Columbia’s Continuing Studies Division and were also presented at Stanford University’s WAIS 2006 Critical World Problems Conference Presentations on July 30-31, 2006).

The most amazing and interesting part of all Sassanian architecture is the famed arch of Ctesiphon the “Tāq-i Kisrā” (meaning “Iwan of Khosrau”) build during the golden age of the Sassanian empire under Anushiravan the Just (Khosrau I of Persia) after a campaign against the Byzantine Empire in 540AD.The arched Iwan hall, open on the facade side, was about 37 meters high 26 meters across and 50 meters long, the largest vault ever created, according to French traveler Pascal Coste remarked “the Romans had nothing similar or of the type!”

The arch was part of the imperial palace complex. The Throne room—presumably under or behind the arch was more than 30 m (110 ft) high and covered an area 24 m (80 ft) wide by 48 m (160 ft) long. The top of the arch is about 1 meter thick while the walls at the base are up to 7 meters thick. In order to make this possible a number of techniques were used .The bricks were laid about 18 degrees from the vertical which allowed them to be partially supported by the rear wall during construction. The quick drying cement used as mortar allowed the fresh bricks to be quickly supported by those that were previously laid.

By 640AD the Arabs invaded the Sassanian Empire and burned down the royal palace in Ctesiphon and the arch was looted and the Arabs used it as a mosque of a temporary time until the city was abandoned a sort time later. Across Iran much of the Palaces were looted and much Iranian culture and art was lost with it. The Sassanian Empire went into full decline in 651AD with the death of their last king Yazdgerd III of Persia.

Legacy and importance
The influence of Sassanid architecture reached far beyond their borders, it had a distinctive influence on Byzantine and Islamic architecture, Islamic architecture especially in places such as Baghdad for example, was based on Persian precedents such as Firouzabad in Persia. In fact, it is now known that the two designers who were hired by al-Mansur to plan the city’s design were Naubakht, a former Persian Zoroastrian, and Mashallah, a former Jew from Khorasan, Iran. The medieval Islamic domes were also based on those of the Sassanians. The best possible example is Dome of Mihrab in Tunsia and the famous Dome of the Rock were influence can be seen from both Sassanian Iran and Byzantine Rome.

Terry Jones’ video  “Clever Barbarians”

In Bactria (modern Afghanistan) at Bamian are ruins that show the great impact of Iranian art and architecture (especially from Sassanid era) from the 4th to the 8th century. Frescoes and colossal Buddhas adorn Bamian’s monasteries, revealing a fusion of Sassanid-Iranian and Greco-Buddhist elements within it. The Buddha’s of Bamyan contain heavy Sassanian influence such as the large arch surrounding the statues head and the style of art within it. Archeological excavations have proved that it is well possible that the Sassanian kings may have ordered part of the building or reconstruction of the Buddhas.

A profound affect occurred on Indian architecture, especially after the arrival of the Parsi population in around 660AD. The Indians began to carve giant statues of themselves into the mountains and cliffs, obviously these influences came from carving from Naqsh-e Rustam and Taq –e Bostan. One example includes murals in the Ajanta cave depicting a Hindu king with men in Sassanian dress. The arches surrounding the depiction also contain some Iranian influence. The Sassanians have had an undeniably vast influence on modern Iranian architecture one example is the Borj-e Azadi in Tehran (previously known as the Shahyād) the architect Hossein Amanat combined elements of Sassanian and Islamic architecture, the gigantic archway is based of the one in Ctesiphon. Similarly the entrance to Muze-ye Iran-e Bastan in Tehran (designed by architect Andre Godard) was based on Sassanid vaults, particularly the Iwan of Ctesiphon.

I will end this narrative with a quote from the Abbasid caliphs (ruled 750AD-1258) – “The Persians ruled for a thousand years and did not need us Arabs even for a day. We have been ruling them for one or two centuries and cannot do without them for an hour.”

Daryaee, Touraj (2009). Sasanian Persia: The Rise and Fall of an Empire. I.B. Taurus.

Farrokh, Kaveh (2008). Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War. Osprey Publishing.

Pīrniyā, Muammah Karīm (2005). Sabk Shināsī-i mimārī-i Īrānī (Study of styles in Iranian architecture). Tehran: Surush-i Dānish.

Rawlinson, George (1885). The Seven Great Monarchies of the Ancient Eastern World: The Seventh Monarchy: History of the Sassanian or New Persian Empire. John B. Alden.

Uphan Pope, Arthur (1982). Introducing Persian Architecture. Tuttle Publications.